Photo credit:© Jeff Curry - USA Today
Meet the Buyers: The Boston Bruins need a centre and Elias Lindholm fits perfectly
1 month ago
Come day one of the 2024 NHL Draft, the Calgary Flames could very well have four selections.
Despite sitting just two points out of a playoff spot, it looks as if the Flames are going to be sellers at this season’s trade deadline. This is because they have three valuable soon-to-be unrestricted free agents that could net them first-round picks in Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev, and Noah Hanifin. This isn’t to mention goaltender Jacob Markström, who has a no-move clause but could be on the move if the right deal comes.
It’ll be upsetting if the Flames miss the playoffs, to say the least, but moving these four players could set the Flames up for greater future success. In this series, we’ll look at contenders that would be a fit for at least one of these players, starting with the Boston Bruins.
The Boston Bruins’ needs
Realistically, the Boston Bruins need Elias Lindholm. After the 2022-23 season ended with a disappointing collapse to the Florida Panthers, both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejčí retired leaving the Bruins with a massive hole with their centre position.
According to Daily Faceoff, Charlie Coyle is their first line centre and has 14 goals and 31 points in 42 games. That actually beats out Lindholm’s eight goals and 28 points in 43 games, but Lindholm has three 60-point seasons in his career, while Coyle’s career-high is 56 points set back in 2016-17.
Boston’s second line centre is Pavel Zacha, who has nine goals and 25 points in 38 games this season. The Czechia-native set a career-high in both goals and points in his first season with the Bruins in 2022-23, scoring 21 times and posting 57 points.
Still, Lindholm has shown in the past to be a first line centre who is excellent defensively while being on a great contract that has a cap hit of $4.85 million. If the Bruins were to trade for the 29-year-old, it would improve their centre depth significantly.
As for if there’s a trade fit for one of the Flames’ defencemen, right-shot defenceman Brandon Carlo was recently placed on the injured reserve, but will seemingly be back in short order as he’s already skating. Left-shot defenceman Derek Forbort is also skating and has been on the long-term injured reserve since early December. It’s hard to say that it’s worth it for the Bruins to trade for Hanifin or Tanev when those two defencemen are soon to be returning.
The Bruins’ goaltending situation is one of the best in the league. For the second straight season, the Bruins will have a goaltender heading to the All-Star Game, but this time it’ll be Jeremy Swayman instead of Linus Ullmark, who went to the 2023 All-Star Game.
What assets do the Boston Bruins have to offer
While the Bruins may desperately need a top-six forward like Lindholm, they may not have the assets to get him. At last season’s deadline, the Bruins sent a Top-10 protected pick to the Detroit Red Wings for Tyler Bertuzzi, with the pick likely going to the Ottawa Senators for Alex DeBrincat. The Bruins are also missing their second and third-round picks.
Of course, their 2025 pick is available to be traded, but even though Calgary may look to sell this season, their team is still good enough to compete for a playoff spot, so trading for a future pick may be less than ideal.
On top of the lack of 2024 picks, the Bruins have one of the weakest farm systems in the league, so unless they’re willing to trade one of their young, controllable players on their main roster, there may not be a fit between the two teams.
The cap situation of both teams
To make matters worse, the Bruins don’t have any cap space remaining, at least when the entire team is healthy. Per Puckpedia, they have a current cap space of $2.013 million (due to having LTIR space left), but a projected cap space of $-1.872 million at season’s end (due to their LTIR usage).
Most contenders are up against the cap so teams will have to be creative. One way the Flames could help out the Bruins cap situation while also getting a better return is if they retain Lindholm’s remaining salary. Every team is allowed three retentions on a contract, and Calgary has all three remaining.
It’s safe to say that the Flames have a player to fit Boston’s needs. The cap hit could work, but the Bruins may not have the assets to get it done unless the Flames want a first-round pick in the 2025 draft.
That pick would not be all that bad, as the Flames likely won’t have their own pick in 2024, leaving them with just Florida’s pick that season. Moreover, they could flip that pick for an important player, as the Red Wings did with Boston’s 2024 first-round pick during the last off-season.
We’ll see what happens as we inch closer to the March 8 trade deadline.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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